Nick Kyrgios thrives on big stages and amidst raucous atmospheres. Nowhere is that more of the case for him than it is at the Australian Open, where will take the court for second-round action on Wednesday. In two previous appearances in Melbourne, Kyrgios has already played a trio of dramatic five-setters. He lost from two sets up against Benoit Paire in 2014 then beat Federico Delbonis and Andreas Seppi in five to reach the 2015 quarterfinals (lost to Andy Murray).
The 20-year-old Aussie is in fine form to begin this season. He paired with Daria Gavrilova to lead the host nation to a title at the Hopman Cup, a mixed team competition in Perth. Kyrgios kicked off his Australian Open champaign by crushing Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Monday night.
“There were a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement,” Kyrgios said in his post-match press conference. “I haven’t played a real, real match. I played Hopman Cup. Felt confident. I came out there pretty good. I was striking the ball well from the get-go. That probably eased me into the match a little bit better than I thought it was going to be out there. Yeah, it was a good win.”
Up next for Kyrgios is a first-ever date with Pablo Cuevas. The 41st-ranked Uruguayan advanced with a 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-4 win over Yoshihito Nishioka. Cuevas is now 2-1 on the season, having previously reached round two in Sydney (lost to eventual runner-up Grigor Dimitrov).
“I’ve watched him play,” Kyrgios commented. “I’ve always been pretty impressed by him. I think he’s a great athlete. He makes a lot of balls, he competes every point. He’s more than capable of doing some damage these weeks. I think the Grand Slams, best-of-five suit him. I know what type of tennis I need to play.”
Any kind of tennis on a hard court should be enough for Kyrgios in this matchup. Cuevas would be able to make things interesting on clay, but he will not be able to withstand his opponent’s firepower on a relatively fast surface. Especially in Australia, this is a rough matchup for Cuevas.
Prediction – Kyrgios in straight sets
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